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Croquetas with Blue Cheese and Jamón Serrano

When chef Michelle Bernstein described Miami’s lunch counter croquetas as “leaden”, I hated to admit that she was right.  Made of pureed ham, chicken, or beef, they’re often left to sit out in glass cases for hours.  Even if you’re lucky enough to come across a freshly fried batch, it’s more ham spread than creamy béchamel.  On a recent trip home, I had one from an otherwise good bakery filled with a flourescent paste that could not have possibly been found in nature.  Sold in large trays for family parties, the tiny versions pack an even weightier punch.  Still, I haven’t given up on them yet.  Using any excuse to visit the crowded coffee stands and bakeries that dot Miami, they’re usually the first thing I ask for when I land and the last thing I pick up on my way to the departure gate. 

Tired of tilting windmills (or in this case ventanitas) looking for a great croqueta, I tried this version of croquetas with Gorgonzola and jamón Serrano from Cuisine à Latina.  Served with dollop of fig jam, it was a perfect balance of sweet and savory.  I love appetizers for lunch so I threw together a salad of arugula and sliced pears to have with them.  It was lovely though I missed the banter of people crowding the bakery windows, the constant whir of the espresso machine, and the pack of saltines and wedge of lime that comes with every order of croquetas, leaden or not – the cost of going it alone.

Croquetas with Blue Cheese and Jamón Serrano
This recipe is adapted from Michelle Bernstein’s Cuisine à Latina and can also be found here.  Though a little labor intensive at first, they can be made ahead and frozen so they’re prefect for parties.  I would try them with prosciutto as well.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 ounces Gorgonzola dolce or other creamy blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 pound Serrano ham, cut into thin 1/2-inch strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 large eggs, well beaten at room temperature
1 cup dried bread crumbs
Canola oil, for deep frying

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté until soft but not browned, about 4 minutes.  Add the ham and cook about one more minute.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until well incorporated, about 4 minutes.  In the meantime, gently heat the milk until hot but not boiling.  Gradually stir in the milk, turning constantly until the sauce has thickened and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.  Add the Gorgonzola and stir until its completely melted.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Pour the mixture onto the lined  baking sheet using a rubber spatula to spread evenly.  Bring to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least one hour.

Lay out 1/2 cup of flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs in separate mixing bowls.  Dust hands with flour and spoon the béchamel mixture into walnut sized pieces and roll into desired shape.  One by one, roll the croquetas in flour, then drop into egg mixture with a fork or slotted spoon, then transfer to bread crumbs.  They should be completely coated in bread crumbs or they will leak when cooked.*

Add about 3″ of oil to a large heavy skillet.  Heat over medium-high heat to 360°F.  Working in batches, carefully add the croquetas.  Gently turn until brown on all sides, about 3 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels or re-purposed grocery paper bags.  Return the oil to 360°F between batches.  Serve immediately.

Makes 16-20 croquetas.

*At this point, the croquetas can be frozen up to 1 month.  Arrange them on a baking sheet and freeze until firm then transfer to an airtight bag and freeze. Do not defrost before frying.

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Alberto #

    This sounds too delicious for words….can’t wait to bite into it!!

    20 October 2010
  2. Natasha #

    These look fantastic! I will definately try them :)

    20 October 2010
  3. Wow. Those DO look mighty tasty! HUZZAH!

    20 October 2010
  4. Love the idea of enjoying these with fig jam! Sounds so sophisticated and delicious.

    20 October 2010
  5. I love Croquetas, they are what they are, the thing with most CUban establishments is that it’s like my grandma says “son mas harina que nada” lol.

    For me the basic recipe is the finely minced chicken, beef or pork we even use fish (no chunks just really well shredded up n chopped or use a processor and pulse well) and I heat a large pot with olive oil or butter, brown some onion, add the meat stir a bit, and the flour, let the flour absorb all the oil and get rid of raw taste, then milk and stir to get the paste. We let it cool over night then make the Croquettes. :D I like Alioli with it.

    U do it the same except it’s just u fold in gorganzola

    20 October 2010
  6. Teri #

    So I have gone retro with your entries since I am a “Cubanphile” and your Cuban recipe entries where I so love to comment at length are sparse. That’s not to say my taste buds are not international it’s only that I prefer to comment on Cuban food topics.
    Anyway I do not know protocol when going retro. Does one say “Hi Sofia”. I saw this entry and had to let you in on a little secret-Bernstein WANTS the spotlight on herself in Miami but I didin’t say this and of course DON’T TELL anyone this is so.
    Now as a community older (I suspect) sister (speaking very freely and loosely) I will remind you that Cuban food standing up, sitting down or on your head upside down is really delicious. After Indian, Italian, Middle-Eastern (like Lebanon & Morocco), even some Turkish it is one of the yummiest, heartiest and satisfying cuisines, even if high on carbs, so is Italian and who is complaining. Remember Italian food only got recognized not too long ago. When I was a child the loudest shout Italain cuisine in this country got was Chef Boy-ar-dee.
    Today Batali owns how much money-prized acreage of Manhattan land to house tomato sauce with his EATALY! Bernstein is egocentric and selfish (the same thing) in making such a claim-what are the beginnings of her dietary adventure to make such a claim about ours which she obviously does not know well. Read any of her restaurant menus-Michy’s or the others. Not one Cuban fare is celebrated at her restaurant and she only lives in Miami. I am a croqueta junkie and my taste buds are well honed (as a young adult, I sat more at restaurants than in my mom’s kitchen) and there is not one I woulnd’nt woof down like a junkie in the shawdows of an edifice with my back turned against the sidewalk while snorting heavily the whole time. A review I believe Bernstein needs to hear.
    Every Cuban loves Cuban croquetas they all can’t be wrong.

    29 August 2012
  7. Thanks for any other informative website. Where else may I get that kind of info written in such
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    and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

    16 July 2013

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  1. Croquetas de Jamón « hungry sofia
  2. Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » October 2010 Roundup

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